Whenever I talk about Lumion, I often focus on exteriors because of Lumion’s easily accessible environment resources, including oceans, landforms, foliage, and weather. The truth is, Lumion is excellent for creating interiors as well and to do this, it requires a different approach for lighting and effects. To ensure your success in rendering interiors, I’ll provide you with the best strategies, effects, and a complete understanding of the light sources available in Lumion.
Regardless of the project that you’re working on, you will need a thoughtful design, convincing textures, and engaging lighting. It’s very difficult to make a bad design, poor texturing, and dull lighting look good as a final rendering. You already have an understanding on some of the skills behind creating a design, but if you need a hand with modeling and texturing check out our new class, “Sketchup for Professionals”. Read on below to unlock the mysteries of interior lighting in Lumion.

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Learn how to create the 3D Model we use in this blog post on our new SketchUp for Professionals online training page. We’ll show you all there is to know so you can become a professional designer using SketchUp.

LUMION LIGHT SOURCES

There are several different light sources available in Lumion to render your project. Each one has it’s strengths, weaknesses, and ideal applications. Study these light sources so you can best apply them to your scene. The following list is meant to be informative for a first-time reader, as well as a reference for advanced users.

Note:  In the test renderings, Hyperlight2 intensity is set to 125 and the following effects are added to effect the outcome for lighting: Global Illumination, Reflections, Shadows, Sun, Exposure. Click and drag on the image to see the effects of the single-light source vs no-light source.

SUN

  • Is a directional light source that casts shadows
  • The default position of the sun is controlled through the Environment Tab in Build Mode
  • Override the Environment settings by adding the Sun Effect or Sun Study Effect
  • The Sun Study Effect offers precise north direction, latitude, and longitude

SPOTLIGHT

  • Is a cone of light, emanating from a point, that casts shadows
  • Default Brightness is set at 300
  • Modify the color, brightness, cone angle, and other properties on the Objects tab, Move Mode, and Edit Properties
  • Is best when placed accurately with node placement
  • Are the only artificial light source calculated by the Global Illumination effect
  • Is ideal for use in can lights, pendant lights, and lamps
  • “Show light source” is checked on

Advanced Technique: Spotlights cast soft shadows, the sun does not. Try using a spotlight as a replacement for the Sun.

OMNI LIIGHT

  • Is a point light source that projects light evenly in all directions, brightening all surfaces the light hits, but it does not cast shadows
  • Default Brightness is set to 500
  • Modify the color and brightness on the Objects tab, Move Mode, Edit Properties
  • Is ideal for use when complementing spotlights by softening the scallop effect, and general lighting for chandeliers and lamps
  • Will cast light through walls; you can control this “light leakage” by adjusting the brightness value

LIGHT FILL

  • Is a point light source that projects light evenly in all directions, brightening the front and back of all surfaces the light hits, but it does not cast shadows
  • Default Brightness is set to 1500
  • Modify the color and brightness on the Objects tab, Move Mode, Edit Properties
  • Is ideal to force light into a dark area of the model
  • Will cast light through walls; you can control this “light leakage” by adjusting the brightness value

AREA LIGHT

  • Is a rectangular light source that projects light in one direction with behavior comparable to an even grid of Omni Lights; brightening all surfaces the light hits, but it does not cast shadows
  • Default Brightness is set to 50
  • Modify the color, brightness, falloff, and other properties on the Objects tab, Move Mode, Edit Properties
  • Is ideal to push light into a space or cast large, even amounts of light
  • Will cast light through walls; you can control this “light leakage” by adjusting the brightness value
  • Make sure “Show light source” is checked on

Tip: Area Lights and Line Lights are the same, but can be placed with different dimensions and default brightness’.

LINE LIGHT

  • Is a rectangular light source that projects light in one direction with behavior comparable to an even grid of Omni Lights; brightening all surfaces the light hits, but it does not cast shadows
  • Default Brightness is set to 1000
  • Modify the color, brightness, falloff, and other properties on the Objects tab, Move Mode, Edit Properties
  • Is best for strip lights, cove lights, back-lighting televisions, and art
  • Is best when placed accurately with node placement
  • Will cast light through walls; you can control this “light leakage” by adjusting the brightness value
  • Make sure “Show light source” is checked on

EMISSIVE MATERIAL

  • Is a glowing material and is displayed as a glaring light source that does not cast shadows
  • Adds emissive property to any material in the material settings
  • Must have at least one pixel of visibility in the scene, and hyperlight must be enabled, otherwise it will not cast light
  • Is best used to simulate glowing light bulbs, lamp shades, and the inside of a can light

Note: Spotlights cast shadows and will not penetrate walls; all other lights will pass through walls. Adjust the falloff and brightness values to limit light leakage.

LIGHTING STRATEGY

When lighting a scene, there are two competing strategies to choose from;  Accurate Lighting and Artistic Lighting. Accurate Lighting is the most obvious approach. To do this, place a Lumion light source at each modeled light source and follow the lighting plan as instructed in your construction documents. Artistic Lighting requires a photographer’s eye; place Lumion lights based on what looks good, and paint your scenes as you would if you were to paint with light. In Lumion, it is best to use a combination of these two strategies, using each where they are suited the strongest.

It’s best to use an Accurate Lighting strategy for the sun and major light sources, ie. pendant lights, can lights, and cove lights. Precisely place spotlights at all major directional light sources and place line lights at any cove or indirect lighting application. Omni Lights can be used to soften the spotlights and brighten the room. Place Omni Lights near lamps and wall sconces that project a scallop on the wall.

Tip: You can place lights with extreme accuracy in your 3D modeling program, and then use the node placement command in Lumion. This method is perfect for cove and can lights. See this tutorial...

Use an Artistic Lighting strategy to finish off the scene. When using this strategy, lights can be placed with less accuracy and used more based on personal preference, visual aesthetic, and style  of the image. Place Light Fills on dark surfaces to brighten them. Area Lights can be used in place of a collection of lights, or to push a large amount of light into a space through a window. Although it’s not physically accurate, Emissive Materials can be used to give the illusion of a light bulb, and also make the inside of a can light glow to mask the spotlight.

Tip:  Emissive Material  inside the can lights paired with the lens flare effect. When adding spotlights and line lights, turn on “show light source” in the Lumion properties to see the source.

Finding the right balance of lighting is critical. If you only take an artistic approach, you will end up adjusting settings arbitrarily and your image will lack accuracy like pulling one end of a rope, then pulling the other. Avoid brightening lights and then dimming them with exposure. If you only use an accurate lighting approach, you will put a rather large load on your machine and may end up with a rigid, computer-generated image.

AVOID POST-PROCESSING

Once your scene is lit, it’s time to render. Traditional rendering programs will create an image that requires considerable editing in Photoshop in order to make it presentation-ready. This is called post-processing, and it can be never ending. The problem with post-processing is that it makes design revisions extremely labor intensive by requiring edits to the model and every rendered image in the final sets.

In Lumion you pre-process your images by adding effects before your image is even rendered. Lumion Effects eliminate post-processing in Photoshop, so your renderings are presentation ready when they are complete. This pre-process feature is exclusive to Lumion, and it will drastically reduce the amount of work created from revisions in order to update a presentation.

Here are some Standard Effects you should add to every scene, and some Stylistic Effects you can add to develop your personal style. Both effects will add some pre-processing effects to your image and allow you to adjust the settings until it’s perfect. You will enjoy new found confidence in your images by having the real-time visual feedback offered in Lumion.

STANDARD EFFECTS

(Used in every scene)

STYLISTIC EFFECTS

(Develop your visual style)

PRE-PROCESSING EFFECTS

(Eliminate post-processing)

  • Sun
  • Shadows
  • Reflections
  • Global illumination
  • Exposure
  • Lens flare
  • Volumetric sunlight
  • 2-point perspective
  • Depth of field
  • Bloom
  • Noise
  • Sharpness
  • Selective saturation
  • Color correction
  • Analog Color Lab

Click here to download the effects stack used in this tutorial. Feel free to customize it, change it, make it your own!

Tip:  Use Analog Color Lab in place of the pre-process effects. It’s the easy button. Use it sparingly with other pre-process effects.

INTERIOR LIGHTING WORKFLOW

Every project you work on will be unique, but the following steps can be used to produce consistent results.  This is a good outline, but don’t lose your spirit of adventure and curiosity; build, break effect stacks, tweak lighting properties, and experiment with new techniques.

  1. Once a design is accurately modeled and textured to an appropriate level of detail, it is ready for adding lights
  2. Use the node placement command to place Can Lights and Cove Lights with perfection
  3. When placing Spotlights at lamps with a wide angle, set the direction of the Spotlights to face both up and down
  4. Add Omni Lights to lamps to soften scalloping
  5. Add Light Fills to surfaces that are too dark
  6. Increase Emissive Material properties in can lights, lamp shades, and light bulbs
  7. In the Photo Studio, you can add the necessary standard effects, stylistic effects, and time-saving pre-process effects, or you can load an effect stack to achieve the same results if you have them already built and saved
  8. Render, save, and present your final design

YOU CAN DO IT

SketchUp for Professionals from Brightman Designs uses courses with real-world projects to communicate best practices and model organization strategies. Here is Chapter 9, Visualize in Lumion, where we focus specifically on how to create a finished rendering, start-to-finish.

SUFP 9.01 - Overview

SUFP 9.02 - Import SketchUp Model

SUFP 9.03 - Assign Materials

SUFP 9.04 - Craft the Environment

SUFP 9.05 - Interior Lighting

SUFP 9.06 - Standard Photo Effects

SUFP 9.07 - Stylistic Photo Effects

SUFP 9.08 - Revisions

SUFP 9.09 - Homework

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